Some financial advisors I speak to say they don’t do any marketing. But, in reality, that is far from the truth:

  • Every time you put out a client communication or an educational piece – whether it is online, in print, in person, on television or radio – you are in essence marketing yourself and your firm.
  • Every time you open your mouth and talk about the value you provide and how you help people, you are in essence marketing the services you provide.
  • Every article you write or interview you grant falls under the banner “marketing.”
  • The newsletters, podcasts, webinars, seminar handouts and blog columns you produce are marketing materials.
  • Your logo, tagline, brochure, website, Power Point slide decks and other stationery items support your marketing and branding plan.
  • Social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter provide an opportunity to build relationships, provide value and subtly market your firm.

In reality, marketing is everything you do to attract and retain business. How you position yourself and how you are perceived in the marketplace is extremely important. This means that every time you write or speak, you have an opportunity to educate people, build trust and reinforce your positioning – and that's an opportunity you don't want to miss.
But an opportunity can also be a challenge. In this case, the challenge is how to make your marketing copy work for you. Good marketers follow some basic guidelines, which are outlined below.
1. Define your objective

Defining your object and desired results is important regardless of the type of piece you create. For what purpose are you creating this piece and what do you expect from it? Write down the product, service, event, or image you are trying to sell. Then determine the response you want from your prospect such as an inquiry, attendance, awareness, or an emotional behavior.

2. Make it all about them

To sell your prospects on whatever you are promoting, you must relate it to their lives and convince them that you can fulfill their need. The value of addressing the current and/or prospective client as "you" in your promotional piece cannot be emphasized enough. Reflect on the clients' demographics and psychographics – and consider what it takes to motivate them to buy your product or service.

3. Sell benefits not features

A feature is a detail or specific characteristic of the product or service you sell. A benefit is how that specific feature adds value or satisfies your clients' needs. Focusing on the benefits of your product or service helps your clients envision how it can enhance their lives.
4. Distinguish your product or service from the competition

Something differentiates your product or service from the competition whether it is price, product, location, timing or expertise. Use those distinguishing features as a cornerstone of your marketing message. It makes the difference between your clients simply recognizing a need for the service you provide and deciding that yours is the only one that fills that need.

5. Make a promise

Promise the reader / listener that your product or service will enhance their lives. By writing down all the problems that your product or service may help them fix, you can target your ad or marketing piece to your market. Show your clients the value of your promise and you will be one step closer to being something they cannot live without.

6. Deliver on the promise

Relationships are built on an honest ability to prove that you can deliver your promise. Use the benefits of your product or service to back your promise. Show clients how your product or service will enhance their lives or save them money by clearly stating specific features and benefits.

7. Picture it

Visuals, such as photographs, illustrations, or charts are powerful, if they are good quality. Do not waste precious space on a poor graphic or one that does not reinforce your message or fit your copy. Make this your mantra: Communicate — don't just decorate.

8. Keep it short and sweet

When developing ads, avoid long complicated sentences and complex ideas. Even when you manage to capture a reader's attention you only have a few seconds to communicate your message. Use lists, bullets, short sentences, and brief paragraphs. Keep your copy simple and easy to read. Also, make sure you stick to your message and aim for your desired response.

9. Call to action

Next, direct your reader to take action. You must tell them how to act, whether you want them to attend an event, visit your Web site, or call your office.

10. Create a sense of urgency

Encourage readers to take action immediately. Entice them with bonus offers or special pricing for a limited time. Though this tactic may sound somewhat commercial for your service, it really does work. You have created the desire and given your readers the added sense of urgency that motivates them to take action or risk missing out on something very important.

This is the fifth installment in my series of Marketing Maven articles on how to create better client correspondence, online content, and marketing communications. If you have missed any of the other installments, please start at the very beginning – "Use Client-Centered Communications to Build Your Business" – and follow the thread of articles all the way through to ensure best results.

Next time, I’ll tell you how to use the right words and tone to connect with people when writing marketing copy.

Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for over twenty years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at Get breaking news at

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Financial Planning content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access